A poem for Ben – born on Christmas Day.
You were Christmas’s child
Born not to riches
But to a life of graft
Making, mending and making do.
There were no gifts from the east for you
But craftsmanship guile, ready wit
The gift of friendship
And a fiercely independent spirit.
A time died with you
We only knew through your stories
Of big families, passed down children
Cursory schooling, schoolyard japes.
Of millionaires, big houses, gardeners,
Chauffeuring at fourteen.
Living starlit under country skies,
Courting on bicycles, bowler hatted,
Army scrapes and country pubs.
A time too we shared with you.
Days in your cosy, pokey cottage
Coal fires, pub lunches,
Stories and the things you said.
You in your chair beneath the stairs,
Snuff, boiled sweets and salad teas.
Neighbours in and out to greet you.
Shakey hands you could turn to anything.
Warm greetings and fond partings.
You won’t be there another Christmas,
Won’t be found there in your chair.
Gone the warmth of your fresh greeting.
Gone a source of Christmas cheer.